FOXBOROUGH — As Chris Tierney lined up a 93rd-minute free kick from the top of the penalty box, only one thought went through the Revolution left back’s mind.
“I’m putting this thing on target,” Tierney said. “I’m not putting this thing over.”
Tierney’s ensuing free kick ricocheted off a defender in the wall, looped over goalkeeper Tim Howard, and fell into the net to earn the Revolution a late 2-1 victory over the Colorado Rapids in their home opener on Saturday afternoon.
“I hit a hundred of those this week in practice,” he said, “so when I got the chance I liked my chances, let’s say that.”
Tierney’s last-gasp winner in front of 13,305 fans at Gillette Stadium spared the Revolution from dropping 2 points at home after losing their lead midway through the second half. It also extended their unbeaten streak at home to nine games (8-0-1) dating to last season and provided first-year coach Brad Friedel the first win of his tenure in New England.
The Revolution return to action at home March 24 against New York City FC.
Tierney started the afternoon on the bench but he entered in the 16th minute for Gabriel Somi, who suffered a head injury in a collision that earned Rapids forward Jack McBean a yellow card.
The Revolution (1-1-0, 3 points) possessed the ball in Colorado’s half for long spells during the first half, but they weren’t sharp enough to create a clear-cut opportunity. At halftime, Friedel implored his players “to be a little bit more aggressive and brave with the ball in the final third,” he said.
Cristian Penilla heeded Friedel’s message minutes into the second half when an outlet pass freed him to run into open space on the left wing. He darted at Deklan Wynne and cut inside at the top of the box, turning the Rapids right back, before sliding a pass to an unmarked Diego Fagundez at the top of the box. Fagundez settled the pass with one touch before firing a shot through Howard’s legs from 12 yards to open the scoring in the 48th minute.
Friedel hopes the connection between Fagundez and the Revolution’s new signing will flourish as the season continues.
“You could see the little burst of pace that Cristian Penilla has when he’s in the attacking third,” Friedel said. “As we have more time together on the training ground and in games you’ll see that partnership develop very well throughout the season.”
The visitors were presented with a golden opportunity to equalize on a penalty kick six minutes later after Revolution center back Jalil Anibaba swung through Rapids midfielder Johan Blomberg on an attempted clearance inside the 18-yard box.
Revolution keeper Matt Turner sprang into action, though, diving to his left and turning aside Jack Price’s penalty in the bottom left corner. He pushed the shot into Price’s path, but the Rapids midfielder side-footed his follow-up shot over the bar.
The Rapids (0-1-0, 0 points) capitalized on their next look at goal. Blomberg lofted a cross into the box from the right wing and MLS rookie Niki Jackson leapt in front of Turner, nodding the ball past the keeper who had come out to corral the cross.
“The ball held up in the wind a little bit, I hesitated, I thought I could get out to it,” Turner said. “I was a little deep, so maybe I don’t come next time or maybe I make the decision in a split second and go and trust my gut.”
The goal came less than two minutes into Jackson’s MLS debut, and it forced the Revolution to push for another goal over the next 25 minutes.
The breakthrough came as stoppage time wound down. Revolution midfielder Wilfried Zahibo was fouled at the top of the Rapids penalty area, and Turner was provided a direct view of Tierney’s winner.
“I was just hoping that my veteran guy, Chris, over there, he could pick me up there,” Turner said. “Every day in training when he does those free kicks he’s really good. He put it into the back of the net and it was just instant relief, and we were just happy to get the 3 points, especially for the fans who came out and sang their hearts out today.”